Tag Archives: creativity

Have you ever met one of your heroes? – I did!

 Meeting Marian Keyes
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It’s not every day you get the chance to meet a hero or heroine in the flesh. One of my favourite writers and a writing role model for me is the wonderful Marian Keyes and, on a dark and rainy evening, I headed for the bright lights and warmth of our local Waterstone to meet her- actually hear  her speak.

It was lovely to mingle with other fans, have a glass of wine and  and buy my copy of her latest book, ‘The Break’. We were all glad that she was generous enough to travel to the far North to chat to her readers in Newcastle.

It’s a risky business, meeting some one you have admired for a long imagetime. Would she live up to my expectations? You can all breathe a sigh of relief – she did not disappoint. Not one bit. She was as small and sparkly as I imagined and the Irish lilt was as strong as you hear on her vlogs and TV.  She talked about everything, from nail ‘farnish’, to boots to Peppa pig sweets, as well as her new book and she was lovely. She even brought Himself along with her and other fans of Marian will know how important he is to Marian’s life.

But Marian is more than all that lovely stuff I have mentioned. She also talks about the tough things  in life like bereavement and depression and how young women can’t have abortions in Ireland because of the eight amendment of the Irish constitution. She stood up to this and became part of the  ‘Artists’ Campaign to repeal the eighth amendment’. Marian Keyes  picks her battles and this is a worthy one.

imageHer new book ‘The Break’ touches on these topics and, during the evening, she didn’t  shy away from any questions. Her new book also has a rather attractive Geordie (male) in it . Her Newcastle readers are in for a treat! I reviewed The Break for net galley and gave it 5 stars on Amazon but if there were 6 it would have got them. It’s a brilliant read. You can read a full review on my book review page.

You’ll already see why she is a good role model for a new writer like me but my main reason for aspiring to be like her is her determination, she’s back on form after crippling depression, and her delightful unique voice. You know Marian’s work because of that Irish voice that tells a good tale and broaches the subjects we all worry ourselves about yet can still be laugh out loud funny at times..

I want to write books that allow readers to escape and laugh then cry with the characters. Isn’t that far easier to say than to do? I found that out when a wrote  ‘A Jarful of Moondreams’. That’s why Marian is my role model and I’m so glad I met her. If Marian Keyes can recover from alcoholism, face up to depression, write wonderful novels and travel all around the country to meet her readers, she can be one of my role models for life not just for writing.

I hope I’ve got you thinking about a special meeting with a hero that you’ve had or, if not, I hope I’ve tempted you to plan one. I’d love to hear who you admire and why.

You can reveal all on here or I chat on Facebook Chrissie Bradshaw Author and tweet @ChrissieBeee

What is the Story behind that 99p Read?

It’s hard to believe that A Jarful of Moondreams is one year old and on sale for 99p. What a year! It’s been full of highs and lows and lots of learning. Would I do it again? Yes. Would I do it differently? Of course! I made mistakes in publishing and promoting and learned from them. If I didn’t think I could do it all differently and more successfully the second time around I wouldn’t be writing this blog.

imageWriting and publishing a novel is like carrying and giving birth to an infant. It’s full of anxiety as well as joy and producing the finished novel can be a long and painful process that other writers and imaginative readers can appreciate.

Immediately after you write The End there is a niggling worry. Will another follow swiftly or will it be an only novel for years and years like Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird?’ Like a parent, a writer just doesn’t know for sure.

I think the most exciting time is when you finally present your months of hard labour to the reading world with a fanfare of tweets, blogs and giveaways. You want everyone to say kind things and most people do. The relief!

Gradually, the initial buzz of interest lulls and leaves you feeling unsure and full of questions. Will your newbie grow legs and run? Will it be a crawler that sells oh so slowly? You help it along and continue to post proud parent pics and news as you start on book 2.

Book 2 ( title to be revealed soon!) grabs your attention and you’re immersed in that until you look up and your published novel is a year old. If you’re lucky, the second is now ready to be delivered to the reading world and some readers are eagerly waiting for it. How can you cope with more than one leaving the nest?image

This is exactly where I am now and of course I’ll cope. I have so many role models who have a shelf crammed with books in their name and if they can let go time and time again then I’ll certainly try.

imageCan I pause first though? Before I excitedly push book 2 put into the world, I just want to take a moment to enjoy my first book. I’d like to bask in the pleasure of knowing that readers enjoyed my novel and told others about it and it got great reviews.    I need to let my debut know that it’s not forgotten.

‘A Jarful of Moondreams’ hasn’t been a great earner but it has brought me a wealth of knowledge and I’m proud of how it’s still selling for 99p this summer. I’m keeping my faith in its storytelling power and sending it on its way for another year.

I hope that, one day, I’ll be able to fill a shelf with my books but there will always be a special place in my heart for novel number one striving to find its place on your e-book shelf for 99p

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jarful-Moondreams-Chrissie-Bradshaw-ebook/dp/B01HRZ1HAW/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1502802298&sr=8-1

 

Music and Moondreams

 ‘Music is the soundtrack of our lives.’

Dick Clark

Can a certain song take you back to a time or place or bring back being with a special person? Music does that for me. That’s why I am pleased to be part of a music blog event organised by Elaina James. You can read about her journey into song writing on www.mslexia.co.uk/author/elainajames and on www.elainajames.co.uk.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll listen to music in different ways.

Way 1 -Listening to music using head phones to block out all other distractions, the instrumentals sound fantastic and the lyrics are so clear that it’s like being transported to another world. I love to do this under the shade of a beach umbrella and, if there is no beach, lying on my bed comes a close second.

Way 2-Going to concerts and sharing the music with friends and other fans is a different experience. Who doesn’t get carried away by the atmosphere of a concert and a live performance? I remember most concerts quite vividly because of the thrill of getting the tickets and the anticipation of going as well as enjoying the event. Two of my favourite gigs have been David Bowie and Dolly Parton so I have eclectic taste.

Way 3- When I’m active, I like music to spur me on. I have a few favourite running tracks and they can keep my spirits up when the weather is bad or the legs feel leaden. If I have to face the gym, there has to be music to distract me and I prefer a Zumba class to the treadmill.

I use music to ease me into the writing zone too. I tend to play a few tracks when I’m using social media or sorting out my mail and before I start to write or at the very beginning of a writing session and then turn down when the writing gets going.

imageJean Paul Richter, the romantic writer, said, ‘Music is moonlight in the gloomy night of life.’ I like the idea of music acting as moonlight and, when I was writing the first draft of A JARFUL OF MOONDREAMS, I created a playlist around the moon motif within the novel. Both melody and lyrics are important to me and each song is a glimpse of how someone relates to the moon. I wonder which of my tracks you will recognise?

My playlist starts with a 50s ballad and the unique voice of Sinatra singing ‘Blue moon,You knew just what I was there for,You heard me saying a prayer for,Someone I really could care for’. My novel takes place over five moon months and, yes there was that special blue moon in the July of 2015.

Van Morrison’s Moondance comes next, ‘Well, it’s a marvellous night for a Moondance,with the stars up above in your eyes, a fantabulous night to make romance,’Neath the cover of October skies.’ I love this  song it is so uplifting and to maintain the upbeat mood, I have Cat Stevens singing, ‘I’m bein’ followed by a moonshadow, moon shadow, moonshadow—Leapin and hoppin’ on a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow’

The timeline  of A JARFUL of MOONDREAMS takes us through the pink moon of May, a mead moon, a thunder moon a blue moon through to a September  harvest moon. What no cherry moon? Prince’s rendering of Cherry moon had to be on my playlist. ‘How can I stand 2 stay where I am, Poor butterfly who don’t understand, Why can’t I fly away in a special sky, If I don’t find my destiny soon, I’ll die in your arms under the cherry moon.’ Sad news this month, won’t  we all miss his extraordinary talent?

The Waterboys follow on with ‘ I saw the crescent, you saw the whole of the moon.’ Bruno Mars completes the list with my most modern track. ‘I sit by myself talking to the moon, trying to get to you, in hopes you’re on the other side, talking to me to.’

So there you have the songs that lead me into my book. I think that writing  and music go together but aren’t all aspects of life enhanced by music?

 

 

How do debut authors get published?

image‘Sometimes, on the way to a dream, you get lost and find a better one.’ Unknown

My  2016 new year plans for publishing ‘A Jarful of Moondreams’ have changed. It’s  usual for me to let my resolutions slow to a crawl or fall by the wayside (What dry January? Who said diet?). I’ve surprised myself by increasing the challenge and moving forward on this year’s resolution much more quickly than I intended.

Those of you who read January’s blog may recall that I was going to send submissions to agents  for several months and wait to see if someone would represent me before turning, as my last resort,  to self publishing. A good plan, I thought.

Sending off three or four  submissions per month was taking up a day or two of writing time and then there was the waiting  for an answer, or no answer to deal with. It took up more thinking space than I thought it would and each month it was hard to settle into writing book two.

In January, submitting was a new task. In February it was a chore that had to be done if I wanted to be published. By March, the rejections started coming in; I received three very thoughtful rejection emails. ‘A Jarful of Moondreams’  wasn’t for these agents but they wished me luck.

I had been prepared for rejection but the ‘not hearing’ from agents is hard even though I know they’re really busy people. So, with my March  submissions being even more of a grind, I decided to give the submissions a rest for a month or so and just get on with book two. I didn’t want to call a halt to getting my book out there but I had submitted to eight agents and,  if they didn’t want it, who would?

I enjoyed becoming immersed in writing my new novel but, without looking for the topic, I kept reading  about self publishing in news articles, on twitter and on Facebook.

This has happened to me before and I recognise that  it’s a sign that I want to do something even though the rational part of my brain is not so sure.  It’s a bit like seeing pregnant women everywhere when you’re feeling broody. My understanding of this is that it is the reticular activating system filtering and focussing on the thing your subconscious knows you want. ( A Lou Tice course during a previous career taught me this and showed how it could be used to come up with solutions to your goals.)

A couple of my own previous examples are – I kept seeing people with terrier pups when I was in a position to have a dog at last and it had been a long awaited goal. I kept reading about authors who were in the RNA new writers’ scheme when I felt like I wanted writing support but wasn’t sure where to find it. Once I had my pup and once I was on the RNA new writers’ scheme, those pups and writers were still about but they didn’t register in my RAS with as noisy a ‘ding’  every day because I had achieved those things.

I decided that, if my RAS was flagging up self publishing and I was less enthusiastic about sending  submissions, I had the answer  to rethinking  my plan.

It was an article by Rachel Abbott- don’t you  love her thrillers?-  about her route to self publishing that first got me thinking. Rachel’s novels are best sellers but she couldn’t find an agent. Her success has been phenomenal and she got her agent. Lizzy Kremer represents Rachel now but she still self publishes .

A Facebook friend sang the praises of Matador, part of Troubadour publishing, who supported her self publishing journey. Accent press advertised their new venture in the self publishing market. Well established publishers are collaborating with authors who want to self publish. Why not give it a try?

I had to discuss financing this plan with the other  half  of the team and, straight away,  he said, ‘Yes, do it.’  Readers, if you’re out there, (I had already married him) I did it. Gulp, big decision made.

I sent my novel to the two reputable publishers that I’d heard of and both gave me a good choice of levels of publishing and marketing. I decided to go with Octavo ( part of Accent press) who were offering a discount to RNA members and, now the decision is made, I’m delighted to be starting on this exhilarating journey.

My book, ‘A Jarful of Moondreams’, will definitely be available worldwide as an ebook and as a paperback this year. How exciting is that?

Was my decision too hasty or would you have done the same as me?  Has your RAS ever gone into overdrive about a goal? I’d love to hear your views.

 

 

 

 

I’ve got it in writing – Dday is here.

 

 My retreat

imageI have a duvet day marked in my diary for today. On a typical Dday I’ll get up, make breakfast and take it back to my duvet along with the papers, my iPad and my laptop. Duvet days can be very productive. Look at today, I’m writing my blog at 9.30.

It is Sunday so I have already had scrambled eggs, browsed the headlines and made a start on my blog in the first hour of duvet habitation. Soon, I’ll need a nap.

I only have this sort of day if I am ‘slightly’ ill or recovering from something. Few and far between means that Ddays are appreciated. Why on a Sunday when everyone relaxes anyway? Because tomorrow I have a minor hospital procedure and I need to prepare.

OK, if you’re curious, it’s a colonoscopy. I have one every couple of years and it means that I need to have a clear colon so, after breakfast, no food for the rest of the day and at lunchtime a drink that ensures my colon is squeaky clean. Although I need to rest and be near the loo, today will be very productive!

I’ll write a few pages of book two. My WIP is going along really well so I may write more pages than a few but I’ll make sure that I stop in time to watch a film, not chosen yet, and to finish off ‘We are all made of Stars’, my current read, by Rowan Coleman.

Why can't I join you?
Why can’t I join you?

I may even have some company in the afternoon but I won’t be the one getting out the cake and coffee because it’s too tempting. Mr CB will be host and will also be catering for himself today. He has volunteered to dog walk this afternoon too.

So, excuse me, it’s time for a hot drink and a flick through the Sunday supplements. I must read Liz Jones’ diary to find out if she is a happy bunny this week. I live in hope that one day she allows herself to enjoy life.

Tonight, I might just go through my own diary and mark in a new Dday that I can look forward to.

Life is what happens…

‘Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans’

I first heard this in John Lennon’s song, ‘Beautiful Boy’ and John’s fate is my reminder to appreciate each day as it comes whether your plans work out or not. 

We do thrive on plans that take us forward though, and I’m happy that my writing plans for 2016 are forging ahead.

I’ve completed my final draft of  ‘A Jarful of Moondreams’ and , each month, I’m sending it off to two agents and a publisher. I figured that this means I’ll always have one of two people considering my work and won’t have all my rejections back at once.

Talking of rejections, I’ve just had my first. It was a nicely worded rejection and I’ve been told so often that I’ll get lots on my journey to publication that it was a sort of right of passage. Opened it, read it, over it.

As well as looking for representation, I’m looking into self-publishing. My plan is to be published one way or another and, while  I would be delighted to be taken on by an agent who loves my work, I’m prepared to go it alone.

I’ve sent ‘A Jarful of Moondreams’ out into the world to be read by my nearest and dearest. That, I feel,  is harder than giving it to strangers. ”Love It!” ‘Hated Neil” “perfect summer holiday read” ‘Ha! I can’t believe ….(spoiler)” ” I loved that man” It is lovely to hear that people couldn’t wait to find out what happened to my characters. I even got “Is there a sequel? I want to know more about….”

I’ve loved writing for the past couple of years but now I’m learning how satisfying it is for my novel to  have readers. I know I’m going to have great fun when I’m taking it out into a wider field and promoting it. 

While the first born is getting out there, novel 2 has not got a title. There are several that I like but I don’t want to pin it down yet.

With number 2, it’s easier to make writing time, to allow the characters to develop as they come to life on the page IMG_1592and to allow the odd new twist to appear in the story. There’s a welsh terrier who wants to make an appearance. He’s a lovely character like my welshie , Oscar,  but older and wiser. I’m enjoying drafting this story because I’m getting rid of the ‘this is rubbish’ voice that used to crop up when I first started writing. If it whispers that it’s rubbish, I say that I can always go back and change it. I’ve written right up to THE END once so I can do it again because I’m a writer.

 


 

Writing plans for 2016

A Jarful of Moondreams‘ is about romance and family relationships. Cleo and Alex are sisters and it’s complicated. They infuriate one another but they both want what’s best for Teri, their mother. Can they fall in with Teri’s plans and survive a whole summer together!

A Jarful of Moondreams
A Jarful of Moondreams

Somebody liked my writing. I don’t know my ROMANTIC NOVELIST’S ASSOCIATION  reader but I’m very thankful for their support and advice.

Report from New Writer's Scheme
Report from New Writer’s Scheme

This arrived in December and I’m taking the advice on board and then getting my novel out to people.

Here is my plan for 2016.

I’m going to look for a brilliant agent and a two book publishing deal.

Whether I get an agent or not , I’ m going to publish ‘ A Jarful of Moondreams’ and ensure that lots of people find out about it and want to read it. I will self publish if I don’t find my agent or publisher

I’m going to finish book number two in the Dunbridge series and send it out to publishers and agents.

When I’ve got book one published, I’m going to take it to local libraries and radio stations and talk about it and read parts of it and encourage more readers to try my writing.

I’m continuing my RNA New Writers’ Scheme membership and going to the RNA conference in Summer. There is always lots to learn

I’m really excited about 2016 !

What is right for writing?

Oh for a space to call my own, a place to create! Do you ever think this way?
There seems to be a spate of sheds popping up to give space and peace for creativity. Which model would you choose?

I’ve been thinking about space. Work space. I was the eldest of four and, as a teenager, I felt deprived. I shared a bedroom with a younger sister. I studied for A levels at the kitchen table with a three year old toddler sister at my heels and two middle siblings watching TV. I ‘looked after’ the younger three whilst studying and I did OK. 

As a student in a house of six, I could listen to loud music or block it out, join in and out of conversations and complete my assignments without the push of mum and dad because this was what I’d always done.

This ability to work anywhere stood me in good stead when I became headteacher of
an inner city school. I had a spacious office but kept the door open as I worked through a pile of local authority directives and bag load of national bureaucracy. Every day several  ‘selected students’ sat in my office or at a desk outside my door. These young people had been discarded for not fitting in and needed a respite from unfair or at-wits-end teachers or hostile peers before being returned to their class at the end of a session. I learnt a lot from chats with these students and I hope they felt their concerns were appreciated by me. They kept my answers and returns to the local authority and to the government real. I could never forget that I was paid to make a difference to these students.

I became a literacy consultant for my local authority so I must have been doing something right! I worked in an open plan office with chatter, debate and meetings galore. I sometimes worked outside of a school in my car to get something finished but generally I let the bustle of the office wash over me.

Now I’m freelance and
I have a spare room that has been turned into my office. Just mine. It houses my files, my office equipment, my bookcases and the door closes whenever I wish.

I thought I would love it: I hate it! I feel punished for going there. I go and collect what I need and take it to the kitchen table or the conservatory or to a coffee shop.

Lesson learnt.You can take noise and mayhem away but it might not be what you want! My office is like my wardrobe,it is handy for storing things but it is not a place to stay in for long.